Training Mix and Remix

Jennifer L'Estrange
January 30, 2017

How much do you spend on training your employees?  Is it in a classroom or on-the-job? What do you develop internally versus outsource?  How much control do you want over delivery?  Is it an app? e-Learning? Or, are you still handing out binders?

Sick of the mix and remix?  You’re not alone.  Most employees still perceive training as a reward and evaluate it in terms of satisfaction.  Many managers still send their teams to training as a supplement or substitute for performance management and evaluate it in terms of learning.  Meanwhile, HR tries to position training as a piece of the company culture puzzle while trying to deliver more course hours to a larger population with less budget.

Try looking at training from a different perspective.

What are you really trying to achieve?  Why? And then ask, how do you get there? One client we worked with asked us to review how their training was planned, selected and organized for their employees.  With a fast-growing population and moderate employee turnover, we knew that the solution had to deliver more for less, and the results had to be measurable.

The result was a new way to plan and organize learning and development opportunities that allowed HR to simply and effectively communicate training objectives and categorize the offer.  First, we looked at the training objective: was the purpose of the training skills acquisition or was it behavior or cultural norms?  Second, we looked at the business impact: was it about operational excellence or strategic competitive advantage?  We then built the catalogue, sourcing strategy and budget based on the following:

training mix strategic hr and change management company

1- Company Culture, Leadership and Strategy

Programs aimed at maintaining strategic competitive advantage and address behavioural and cultural alignment needs. They are highly customized or uniquely linked to the business and are often delivered, at least in part, by internal leadership. The messages defined and communicated in these programs help define the company culture. Often leadership programs and employee communication programs are included here.

  • High investment, long-term, high impact programs that do not change frequently
  • Focus on on-the-job development, including secondment, development assignments and projects
  • Some targeted off-the-job programs with Internal development and ownership of content; may use external consultancy as expert reference.  Company leadership should always have a delivery role in off-the-job components.
  • Impact measurement should be done through business results, implementation of succession planning and employee survey results

2- Strategic Business Skills

Programmes aimed at acquiring key skills to support the company’s competitive positioning. Again, there is a strong link to the core business or a focus on building new skills in the organization which are key to future success. Delivery of programmes is generally done via internal experts, but may also be external organizations or partners for new skills. The aim, however, is to bring the knowledge internally to the organization, so for most programmes the longer term goal is to deliver the material with internal trainers.

  • Moderate investment, content is part of the company’s core business and doesn’t change often
  • Focus on classroom training with strong on-the-job followup and, in some cases, assessment.  Internal ownership of content; may use consultancy or institutional partner for development support
  • Delivered by internal trainers, when possible.
  • Return on investment is based on consistency of knowledge transfer and measurable business results

3- Ways of Working

Programmes aimed at developing new behaviours to support operational processes. While there is still a link to business needs in terms of the choice of programmes offered, the actual training objectives and materials are generally focuses on ‘best in class’ standards and are often similar from one company to another. Delivery is generally done by external partners with an expertise in a specific domain. Participants can also benefit from the experience of other participants from other companies to enhance the learning.

  • External development and ownership of content
  • Moderate investment, focusing on volume discounts with key suppliers.
  • Impact measurement should be done through assessment of knowledge transfer

4- Skills Training

These courses support the development of specific skills. They are linked to individual development objectives, however the training content will be the same from one company to another. Over time, skills requirements will change, so don’t invest heavily in content development here; it’s not your core business and chances are someone else can do it better than you can.  Use and external partner when available.

  • External courses wherever possible; formal certification is sometimes a component.
  • Minimal investment in terms of time, focus on volume discounts and negotiated contracts with suppliers.
  • Budget should be actively planned and tracked by Managers rather than Learning teams.
  • Impact measurement should be done through self-assessments on knowledge capture and transfer.


Contact Red Clover today to discuss how we can help you!


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